The Eight Function-Attitudes In Depth

Extraverted Sensing (Sensation Seeker)

Extraverted Sensing is primary for ESTP and ESFP types and secondary for ISTP and ISFP types.

Qualities of Extraverted Sensing

  1. As a Sensing function, it is concrete, verifiable, particular, and experiential.
  2. As an Extraverted Perceiving function, it is novelty driven, spontaneous, divergent, and takes cues from external sources.
  3. Extroverted Sensing is the part of the psyche that focuses on what is happening right now.
  4. It asks, “What is happening now?”
  5. It seeks excitement and diverse sensation in the outer world. Many famous thrill seekers (remember Evel Knievel or Steve Irwin?), athletes (i.e., Lebron James, Russell Wilson, Danica Patrick, Serena Williams), and entertainers like Jackie Chan, Beyonce, and Eminem lead with extraverted sensing.
  6. It is tuned to the immediate here and now as experienced through the five senses. Extraverted Sensing is unique as a Perceiving function because it focuses purely on raw, unfiltered sensory data. It doesn’t take the past or the future into account and it doesn’t attempt to make meaning of the data.
  7. It precisely discerns one stimulus from another.
  8. It tends to diverge, or scan, in multiple directions at once.

Additional characteristics

Extroverted sensing is the part of us that says things like:

  1. Enjoy the moment. Live for today. Extraverted Sensing tends to like the finer things in life and trust its impulses more than anything else as a guide toward the good life.
  2. Just do it. Why read the instructions? It’s better to jump in and figure it out. Extraverted Sensing is best when experiencing the situation directly rather than reading or being lectured about it. It learns by doing. It excels in tactical, in-the-moment improvisation.
  3. Where’s the action? Extraverted Sensing loves to be in the middle of the excitement. Both variety and intensity of environmental stimuli are important for its well being.
  4. Don’t bore me. Boredom is experienced as especially painful and can be brought about by too much routine or theory. If you bore someone who leads with Extraverted Sensing, they may see it as an assault on their values.
  5. It’s harder to get permission than ask for forgiveness. Extraverted Sensing doesn’t bother much with rules and regulations. It’s about hard-earned virtuosity in a playing field where anything goes.
  6. Make an impact. The term “create a sensation” might even be more apt. Extraverted Sensing thrives when playing the edge, whether it’s a personal edge or the cultural edge. It is often a boundary pusher. This can be seen in the art of Pablo Picasso, on the fashion runways of the world, in a perfectly landed triple back flip with a twist on a snowboard during the X games, and during the heat of high level, high stakes negotiations.


  1. Improvisation. Extraverted Sensing looks at each situation as unique and deserving of a different, improvised treatment.
  2. Tolerance. Since Extraverted Sensing is all about tangible reality in the here and now, those favoring Extraverted Sensing often approach life in a pragmatic, realistic way. They tend not to hold illusions about people or situations. Instead, they accept what is presented to them via their senses as true and work with it.
  3. Accuracy. Since Extraverted Sensing is focused solely on the present, people using their preferred Extraverted Sensing show a knack for picking up the details in their immediate and peripheral environment. They will see things out of the corner of their eye or hear things in the background that others might miss. For example, in social situations people who lead with Extraverted Sensing are often able to pick up on the subtleties of expression in others. In sports, they are often able to read the actions on the court or the field most precisely.
  4. Action. People who lead with Extraverted Sensing are usually ready to jump in. They make some of the world’s best firefighters, medics, surgeons, SWAT team members, helicopter rescuers, and athletes.
  5. Charisma. People who lead with Extraverted Sensing often become adept at creating excitement and seem to naturally draw others into whatever they are doing. They can make something exciting that would otherwise be dull.
  6. Focus. When using Extraverted Sensing a person can be drawn completely into the moment, so much that one’s sense of self disappears or merges into the object of attention.
  7. Virtuosity. Using Extraverted Sensing, one can use their body as an extension of whatever instrument or tool is being used. There’s a fluidity between self and instrument that proves useful in activities where tool use is prevalent (i.e., music, sports, equipment operation, construction). People who lead with Extraverted Sensing tend to practice tool-using techniques and greatly prize mastery of technique.

Working with Extraverted Sensing

  1. Let them dive in. It’s a mistake to get too academic with someone who leads with Extraverted Sensing. They need to participate in their learning directly or else they’ll be yearning for more excitement.
  2. Give immediate feedback. You can tell it like it is. Just give them the facts. They are often consummate realists.
  3. Give them variety. It is especially difficult for them to persist without a variety of external stimuli.
  4. Let them save the day. They can thrive in a crisis.
  5. Give them room to improvise. Don’t box them in. Let them learn from following their impulses whenever possible.
  6. Do not bore them. This deserves to be repeated. Routine is not their thing.

Brain insights

Tennis Hop BrainThe brains of people who lead with Extraverted Sensing often display something called the Tennis Hop. It is a whole brain pattern that verges on inactivity, but there is actually something going on. Dario Nardi writes, “All regions of  the neocortex are at low amplitude and out of sync.” They are waiting for something to happen - like a tennis player lightly hopping back and forth because it makes for a faster response than just standing still. This happens most often in the brains of ESTP and ESFP types.

The Tennis Hop can happen in other types that do not lead with Extraverted Sensing in scenarios when tactical action is required. However, it’s the people who lead with it that tend to live more in this ready-for-action state and who, uniquely, will go into a flow pattern of solid blue in the midst of a crisis: The same flow pattern that Introverted Sensors display when reliving memories. When it’s time for action, Extraverted Sensors are often calm and have access to the most brain resources.

Extraverted Sensing quotes

“Learning to ... live completely in the very second of the present with no before and no after is the greatest gift [one] can acquire.” -Ernest Hemingway

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena.” - Teddy Roosevelt

“I still have a gypsy sense of adventure. I don’t think I have slept in the same bed for more than three or four months my whole life.” - Hellen Mirren

“All my life I’ve known better than to depend on the experts.” - John F. Kennedy

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Always be ready; not thinking, yet not dreaming; ready for whatever may come.” – Bruce Lee

Try Extraverted Sensing

  1. Notice all the details that are happening right now. What does your experience smell like, look like, taste like, touch like, sound like?
  2. What opportunities do you see here in the present moment?
  3. Play catch. Focus on getting the ball accurately to your partner and catching it when it comes your way.
  4. Eat a meal and put your focus completely on the food; the taste the texture, the smell, and the feel of it as you chew and swallow.